In April 2022, Ashley Schultz, MBA, joined digitalML as our new Customer Success Manager. Ashley is a Customer Success, API, and e-commerce expert, and joins us from FedEx, where she owned their API Developer Portal. I sat down with Ashley to learn a bit more about her background and career to date, what brought her to digitalML and her thoughts on the ignite Platform, and what customers can expect when working with her…
A varied background with Customer Success at its core
Gemma: Tell us a bit about yourself, Ashley!
Ashley: Of course! To give a quick summary, I was born in Dallas, Texas, and was exposed to the world of marketing and advertising from a young age (my dad was in the business and we moved to follow his opportunities). I’ve had a varied early career in the film and subsequently photography industries, during which time I’ve built up a knowledge of multiple aspects of what makes great customer success – how to work with people and build trust.
I focus strongly on customer experience, and credit that with why my photography business was so successful. Listening to the customer, wanting to understand what their goals are, creating a vision for them, what is success for them and where do they need to get to to realize that success.
I also started to develop my technical skills through SEO, web design, and backend development. This led me to wanting to pursue tech-related opportunities, which is where I’ve been to date…
Gemma: What an amazing and varied early career! You’ve also got some great experience in the API world, and are joining us from a Fortune 100 company, can you tell us what hooked you into APIs?
Ashley: From my experience in customer relations, I really wanted to supplement that with more of the technical world, since capitalizing on that had had a massive impact on my business. So I moved back to the states and joined an e-commerce start-up literally 16 days before they were acquired by a Fortune 100 company! Our team had a niche digital focus on a segment of ecommerce; duties, taxes, regulatory and customs etc. – with complex backends that changed daily. I spent a lot of time with development teams and took the opportunity to really learn more about the technology behind what we were doing, and that’s what brought me to APIs.
We were working with SOAP web services at the time, but I was involved in the process of hardening them and evolving them to a set of RESTful APIs (of course a long process at the time, they basically had to be re-written), as well as developing the marketing plan and vision of how we’d use this set of API products globally.
In 2021, I moved departments within the Fortune 100 company, and joined the API team in Services, tasked with creating a platform and way to start bringing all our APIs together. We developed the vision for this (and that’s something I loved about that company; how strong the sense of brand and vision was), but there were some questions I knew we’d need to answer, the “how” of getting to the vision:
- How do we integrate all the APIs and tech together?
- How do we use different gateways to connect across teams and add all our APIs to one portal that would make for a great customer experience?
- How do we provide governance and consistency of documentation?
- How do we build off existing APIs and control and manage the versioning?
- How do we scale and adopt new technologies etc. Events over time?
It was soon after that that the digitalML opportunity came up…
First impressions of digitalML and the ignite Platform…
G: What was it that attracted you to join digitalML?
A: Simply, it’s the fact that digitalML are thinking of tomorrow, and have customers at the core of their values. We look at how we can position ourselves to ensure our customers are successful, and there’s a culture of people who all want to see the success of the customers.
I’m a strong believer in win-win when it comes to customer success, and digitalML have that. It’s more than ROI and sales, it’s ensuring our customers are happy and getting to their vision, and gaining continue value from our platform and the relationship with us.
The communication and insight internally is crazy – it means there’s no need to be actively “transparent” because we’re all working on the same team across departments. And it’s the same with the way we communicate and provide that insight to customers – it helps build trust, and trust is so important, and has been across my career.
G: And what were your first impressions of the ignite Platform?
A: It’s jaw-dropping how much complexity enterprises have, but ignite makes it easy. It was really an instant answer to all of those questions we had in my role at the Fortune 100 co.
There really isn’t another product like ignite out there that enables a customer to still use the technologies and backends they have in place today. So it’s not a replacement for anything, rather a way for them to connect everything they already have and then other things they want to bring in. And I saw this at the Fortune 100 company – it’s the backend and existing technology is actually driving the momentum and ability to succeed.
Think of it like The Home Edit TV series. All enterprises are trying to organize their kitchen and pantry but they don’t know where to start. They’re trying to eat the whole elephant. Where ignite comes in is you’re able to centralize everything, provide that governance, security, all of these elements so you can easily organize. So when you walk into your pantry, everything is clear and organized; you’re not doing things manually anymore, you’re able to scale, able to track versions, who’s making changes, where everything is. What’s great is you’re able to integrate all these technologies, AND bring in new technologies as you want – so its not just APIs, you can adopt Events, you can bring in all your legacy SOAP so you don’t have to change everything at once.
Creating a holistic end to end view of everything that’s going on, and better still you’re able to control who’s doing what – through governance, approvals, and access controls.
What customers can expect when working with Ashley
G: Tell us a bit about what customers can expect when they work with you,?
A: Working with me you’ll get trust and transparency, 100% where we’re at, as a person my face says everything so I’ve learnt trust and honesty is the way to go forward and earn respect. Even if there are challenges along the way, you’ll have transparency so you can make metrics-led decisions on it. Let’s provide insight and numbers and best practices, let’s create a vision and plan of how we’re going to get to your goal together.
And let’s break that into stages – what does our plan look like over time that meets your goals at each stage? Let’s work with your company culture, at your speed, but also provide the insights that inspire and impassions sharing with internal teams to get them excited about what’s coming.
We’ll also be developing the trust to take those insights from what priorities our customers are working on now and take that internally within digitalML so we can continue to roadmap and support customers – really aligning how we work internally with what’s setting them up for success with new features. So it’s not just what our customers need to do but also what we need to do for our customers from a features stand point.
G: Sounds like customers are in for great successes working with you and digitalML! Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Having worked with the Fortune 100 company, I really have the empathy of the challenges large enterprises they face internally. I have an understanding of the fact it might take a bit more time to get buy-in etc., but when you’re a big ship it’s so much harder to turn, so technology that’s helping your ship turn faster (like ignite) while still keeping your ship intact is amazing and worthwhile.
My ultimate goal in this role is to have customers that are so successful they want to shout it from the rooftops to other internal teams and their peers!
A big thanks to Ashley for her time today! If you’re already an ignite customer you’ll likely have met her on customer success calls, and we hope this interview provides a bit more insight into the person behind the Teams call! If you’re not yet a customer and would like to learn more about how ignite can help your large enterprise digitally mature through a holistic catalog and extended lifecycle management of APIs, Services, and Events, book a demo now.